The Pros and Cons of Robotic Vacuum Cleaners


By going over all the robotic vacuum cleaner’s good and bad points, it will provide you with a clearer view of the product. This article features some robotic vacuum cleaner pros and cons to help you make the right decision for yourself.

I was in the very same situation, wondering whether one of these would be worth it. I don’t think it’s for everyone, so I’d like to present an argument for both sides of the argument.

What are the features you will find?

smart vacuum cleaner closeup

Here are a few pros to do with the robotic vacuum cleaners:

  • Autonomous cleaning: Keeping your floor clean without having to lift a finger.
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity: Allows you to take full control using an app on your smartphone.
  • Data monitoring: View the history of the robotic vacuum’s cleaning on your device.
  • Time-saving: This to me is their key benefit. If you are really busy and cannot get to the vacuuming yourself, this will be the likely decision making factor.
  • Voice Control: Connect it up to your voice assistant like Alexa for convenient voice control.
  • Mapping: The smart vacuum cleaner can map out the layout of your rooms so it knows where it’s already been.
  • Different Surfaces: It’s able to clean just about any type of surface including rugs etc.

What are the cons?

Let’s have a look at some of the cons associated with it:

  • Maintenance: No battery lasts forever, not yet anyway. You will have to look at replacing the battery when you notice that it’s not going far on a full charge. Other items like brushes, filters, etc need to be replaced or cleaned on a regular basis.
  • Corners: Hard to access corners won’t be cleaned very thoroughly.
  • Cost: Paying the initial cost and other maintenance costs might not be worth it if you simply can pull out the vacuum cleaner and do the job yourself.
  • Not quite there yet: Comparing to the level of cleaning accomplished by an ordinary vacuum cleaner, the robotic vacuum cleaner isn’t up to the same level of cleaning yet.
  • Too many items laying around: If too many items are left about, it will diminish the area that it will clean as it cannot move these items out of the way.

What robot do vacuums cost?

The price range you can expect for these products start at around $200. From there a good all-rounder should be around the $400 – $500 price point.

Here are prices of some example units as they currently stand (Aug 2018):

  • Ecovacs Deebot N79S: $207
  • iRobot Roomba 960: $450
  • Samsung POWERBot R7040: $400
  • Eufy RoboVac 11: $400
  • bObsweep PetHair Plus: $405
  • Roborock Mi Robot: $580
  • Neato Robotics Botvac D80: $860

This is only a small list of what’s available on the market. Many more models fill in the various price points and provide different levels of performance.

What difference does the battery capacity make?

battery levels illustration

The longer the battery lasts, the longer the robot vacuum can do its job, without having to return to the dock.

As the battery ages, the vacuuming duration becomes less, before it has to return to the dock for charging.

What is the lifespan of the battery?

This can vary based on the quality of the battery chosen by the manufacturer.

Here are the different types of batteries commonly used in a robotic vacuum cleaner and their lifespans.

  • Ni-MH or NiMH (Nickel-metal Hydride): 180 – 2000 Cycles
  • Li-ion (Lithium Ion): 400 – 1200 Cycles

What is a cycle? Using a fully charged battery until it is fully discharged.

Having a look at the specifications of the smart vacuum cleaner will reveal the type of battery. This will enable you to compare it to the list above.

I realize this is a very vague indication, but unfortunately, it all depends on the individual manufacturers’ product.

I would try and find out from a local dealer as to how long the battery would last for each specific model you are interested in.

What other maintenance is required?

Here are a few of the other items that need maintenance:

  • Brushes: Because of the frequent cleaning of the unit, brushes need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. Some models are brush-less and don’t need this maintenance. You still need to clean them every week. Twice a week if you have any pets.
  • Filters: New filters need to be installed every month.
  • Charging contacts: Every month you need to make sure the charging contact on your vacuum is clean, so charges remain effective.
  • Sensor lenses: These need cleaning every month.
  • Other miscellaneous parts: Other model specific parts may need maintenance. This like caster wheels and other moving parts. I cannot see this being more regular than a period shorter than about a month. If there are too many extras, you may want to consider other options.

Does it keep out of my way?

If it bumps into your foot, it will immediately change direction. But I think a better way is to have is vacuum your house when you are at work or somewhere else.

You don’t want to be tripping over it when walking around the house, especially when carrying something.

Will it damage my furniture or parts of my home?

I wouldn’t say there is much of a risk short term. However, you might notice issues long term.

Places like walls or skirting might have marks on it over time. So if you are renting, it may be an issue.

As for the furniture, it’s unlikely, but not impossible for damage.

Newer models are avoiding contact completely and some have rubber bumpers along its outer edge. So I think that it could be a problem that’s going to be nonexistent in the near future.

Can it pick up my pets hair?

cat lying on rug

Most of the modern models have become quite good at dealing with pet hair. It’s not perfect but does a fairly reliable job.

I have noticed that it’s not good at getting ingrained pet hair out of the carpet. So you may want to get a deep clean first, before setting the machine loose on its regular cleaning missions.

How well does it cope getting on and off rugs?

Actually, it was quite surprising to see that they handled obstacles like getting onto thick rugs quite easily.

It varies by the degree of ease, depending on which model actually negotiates the carpet.

For this particular activity, it definitely isn’t dependent on the unit’s price.

How often must it be emptied?

With most of them given their limited size, you need to empty the bin after each vacuum.

So you will probably be emptying it every day.

Will a robot vacuum handle stairs?

vacuum stairs

Will it vacuum the stairs? No. But it will avoid them. So you won’t have one of these come crashing down the stairs.

When it senses the floor not being fully present around or under it, the movement in that direction will cease.

Sensors allow it to know when this happens and it will proceed in the opposite direction.

How does it work around pets?

cat playing with robotic vacuum cleaner

Generally, this shouldn’t be a problem. This is true especially if your pets don’t have a problem with the cleaner.

Some dogs love playing with it, and I would imagine certain pets wanting to go for a ride on it.

It will come down to your pet’s personality, but hopefully, they will simply leave it to do its work.

Make sure that it doesn’t clean anywhere near your animal’s feces. This could lead a trail being smeared around your house. Some could also be tracked along in the small treads in the wheels. So it’s important to be aware of this.

There will also be the cases where a pet won’t like this machine at all. Although it will be an occurrence that’s in the minority, it’s still possible.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a perfect solution for you on this one. The only thing that comes to mind is to perhaps ask someone you know (or that they know) that has one to try out.

The robotic mop

Some higher-end models of the robotic vacuum cleaner also have a mop feature.

There are also robotic mops, and its sole purpose is just to mop.

Some of them have pads that collect the dirt off the floor. Others are more elaborate and can do a light brush and vacuum. Some can release a small amount of spray so the pads can pick the dirt up easier.

It operates much the same way as the robotic vacuum cleaners in terms of controlling it.

So this could be a separate purchase for keeping your hard surface floors clean.

Conclusion

A robotic vacuum cleaner can help you and is a product worth mentioning as a housekeeping gadget that can make cleaning easier.

But in all honesty, you won’t be getting rid of your existing vacuum cleaner. If you have stairs, you still need to vacuum them.

So let’s sum up to find out whether one of these is worth it or not.

I would say that your lifestyle would be the determining factor. However, it doesn’t take long to quickly run a vacuum cleaner over the floor every couple of days.

If you have little time and you have the extra money laying around, then yes, it might be for you.

But if you are on a tight financial budget and have some spare time now and again, I’d pass on it.

Would spending around $200 – $500 and dealing with the maintenance be worth it for a surface level autonomous clean?

Maybe it would, but on the other hand, I could easily vacuum a four-bedroom home in under a half an hour.

I’d like to see how these products are going to be like in the future. Give it another 7 or 10 years and I’ll most likely have a different view on them. Perhaps even a bit sooner.

That’s it for the article. I hope that you have the desired information you needed.

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